Minister of Transport and Intelligence Yisrael Katz has ordered an examination of the planning and economic viability of building an artificial island off the Bat Yam coast. Sources inform "Globes" that Katz recently met with Bat Yam Mayor Tvika Brot to consider the venture. A year ago, in January 2018, a team headed by the National Economic Council was appointed to consider moving infrastructure facilities to offshore artificial islands. The team was formed to recommend to the government where it was feasible to build an initial artificial island, and a Dutch planning firm specializing in the matter was hired for the purpose. Although the decision to establish the team was taken a year ago, sources inform "Globes" that the team began taking practical action to examine the feasibility of an island and assess alternatives among Israel's coastal cities only in January 2019. In addition to the planning considerations being examined by the team, the economic consequences for the local authorities in whose jurisdiction the artificial island will be built are also being assessed.
The question of moving infrastructure facilities to artificial islands or marine structures was first discussed by the government in January 1999. A steering committee for examining the feasibility of offshore artificial islands found that building islands was economically, environmentally, legal, and technologically feasible. A report stated that the plan was suitable for many uses, including airports and industry. The materials that can be used to build such an island are limited, and an outline plan will be needed. A professional committee was later formed to continue examining the feasibility of building artificial islands. It submitted a policy document in July 2007 based on an economic analysis saying that construction of relatively small infrastructure facilities was worthwhile, with a preference for power stations, liquefied natural gas storage terminals, and desalination plants. It was decided in June 2012 to appoint a team to examine the feasibility of building infrastructure facilities in the sea, while at the same time, the Ministry of Transport was examining the feasibility of building an artificial island for construction of an airport and other uses. The idea of building artificial islands has been raised in a number of local authorities, including Tel Aviv, Netanya, and Bat Yam, but no progress was ever made.
Brot confirmed the report, telling "Globes," "The city has lost assets in the past 15 years, and we have to look for creative solutions that will enable us to rebuild the city and preserve its economic independence. Up until now, the city has built more and more residential high-rises. This was wonderful for contractors, but caused great damage to the city and its residents. The artificial island is a real solution that can generate a lot of money for the city and add to municipal land reserves, while not disrupting the residents' lives."
Brot added, "Katz ordered the Ministry of Transport professional staff to start the process, which also dovetails with the government's efforts to promote and develop Bat Yam in order to help the city achieve economic independence."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 24, 2019
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